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Our country needs quality education, Gujarat shows how

Swami Vivekananda’s famous quotation on education, ‘We want that education by which character is formed, strength of mind is increased, the intellect is expanded and by which one can stand on one’s own feet’. This quote of Vivekananda will be fulfilled when children from remote areas of the country will get quality education. The promotion of quality education is indeed necessary in small towns and remote villages. Gujarat is known as a very progressive and highly industrialised state. But very few people know that Gujarat has got 15 per cent of tribal population. A decade ago, the state leadership took account of this and decided to aggressively spread mass awareness, not just for enrolment but for providing quality education in remote tribal areas.

With the objective to provide quality education to meritorious students coming from over 15 lakh tribal families of the state, the Gujarat government has established 80 high standard world class educational institutions for tribal students throughout the state. These special schools are residential in nature. They are run by the state government as also under public private partnership model, for children between classes VI to XII.

Considerable investment is made on educational facilities, teachers, students’ nutritional needs, teaching aids, and co-curricular activities. The students are provided education in English medium in many of these schools in order to enable them to compete with the non-tribal population, says senior officer from Gujarat government.

Giving an example of Vejalpur village of Panchmahal district, he apprised that the English medium school that was started in this village in 2007-2008 imparts high standard education. The school is from standard VI to XII and places a great deal of emphasis on pedagogy and the teachers meet on fortnightly basis to prepare their teaching plans. In addition to classroom teaching, teachers spend extra time on students to enhance their knowledge repository.

The teachers at Vejalpur continue to work out strategies so that children take off on a learning adventure everyday. Sports are accorded importance too, and for many Scheduled Tribe students, it is the first time that they are being introduced to structured sports such as football, volleyball etc.

The students of Vejalpore participate in sports tournaments at national and international level. At the international level, 16 students participated in Taekwondo tournament in Sri Lanka in 2011-2012 and won 13 gold and 3 silver medals. At the national level, 33 students participated in Open Tournament in 2012-2013 at Mumbai and won 15 gold, 11 silver and 7 bronze medals.

The students also participated in khel mahakumbh of the government of Gujarat, winning Rs 3.5 lakh in various sports such as Kabaddi, Volleyball, Hockey, Football, Table Tennis, Taekwondo and athletics. Career counseling is also conducted regularly. The school also features a green house and a two court badminton hall. Very recently, the students met former president A P J Abdul Kalam and presented to him paintings made by them and his portrait, prepared by class IX students. In 2012-2013, the 10th Board result of the school was 100 per cent. Equal emphasis is given on male and female education.

Surya Eklavya Sainik School, in Kherencha village, of Sabarkantha started in 2007-2008, is given to Surya Foundation for running and maintenance. The vision of Surya Eklavya Sainik School is to prepare students for the country’s defence forces. The students passing out from the school are capable of competing in exams for IAS, IPS, Medical, Engineering etc. Being a Sainik School, special focus is laid on physical activities like army drill, running, PT, Yogasan, Karate etc. and games like Volleyball, Football, Kho-kho and Kabaddi. The school has registered with NCC and every year 50 students take part in training of Junior Battalion.

The school is running from standard VI to XII.

In 2011-2012, the school hosted the Science Fair in which schools across the state had participated. Last year, 50 students participated at the district level parade in NCC. At the national level, a cadet participated at National Rifle Shooting Competition, NCC, Delhi, representing Gujarat state. Seventeen students participated in Athletics, Archery, Kabaddi and Kho-Kho at the national level. In December 2011, students participated in National Science Congress, Jaipur.

Through rigorous academic programmes, athletics, cultural activities and community services, ST students studying in the special education initiative of the Tribal Development Department are being prepared for meaningful and efficient participation in the mainstream for economic prosperity and to be a part of national pride.

The author is deputy director of information, government of Gujarat

 
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